Grandmother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wrote this post last year.

This year, of course, was different for me. On account of  my mom passing away at the end of February.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t miss her this Mother’s Day any more than I miss her every day. Even though she drove me crazy for much of my life.

Finding a Mother’s Day card for my mom each year was a challenge to say the least.  So many of those cards contain gooey messages  about how “you are my  best friend” or “you are my whole world”. Those cards made me want to hurl. They just didn’t capture how I honestly felt. Suffice it to say that my relationship with my mom was complicated.

I usually went with cards that had a simple message and would hand write “I love you, Mom”, because I did. And I always will love her.

So instead of publishing a blog post about Mother’s Day this year, I opted out. I decided that the role that has become more and more important for me personally, is that of Grandma. At this point in my life, I find it a much more positive pursuit.

And just look at this little guy, who I blogged about here.

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So I googled “Grandmother’s Day” and found this:

This July 23, we celebrate National Gorgeous Grandma Day.

NATIONAL GORGEOUS GRANDMA DAY – July 23, 2019 | National …

 

Christopher turned 5 in February. He’s a smart, loving, funny kid. Hubs and I were fortunate enough to celebrate his 4th birthday with him and his mom here in Colorado. As we were about to dive into the birthday cake, Hubs commented with a sparkle in his eye that “someone is going to sleep very good tonight”. Christopher’s response? “That would be me”. So he’s witty too.

During a recent video chat with this little guy, Hubs told him how this summer when we see him he’s going to teach him how to fish. His eyes became wide and a big smile formed on his cherubic face. I asked him what he liked to eat these days, after which we embarked on a silly conversation about cheese pizza covered in frosting.

You see, there is a humongous difference between parenting and grand-parenting. If someone had convinced me way back when, while I was in the throes of mothering my lovely teenage terrors (you know, our spawn are a mere 14 months apart), that I would be rewarded for that feat with a wonderful grandson, it would have made things So. Much. Easier.

But that’s what makes life interesting in my view. The surprises.

So, on Tuesday, July 23rd, I’ll be celebrating grandmotherhood. How? That’s a question I’ll have to ponder for a bit. While it’s more likely that I will not be in the actual company of Christopher that day, maybe I’ll make a special pizza with extra frosting.

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Mother’s Day flowers from my boss in my beautiful new vase. Turtle candle holder courtesy of my mom.

 

 

Political Ponderings on the 2020 Race

When it comes to politics in America right now, I just have so many thoughts and opinions. And I probably watch too much MSNBC. I agree with the many people who have recently said that it’s too early to pick a candidate for 2020. After all, there are over 20 people who have put their hats into the ring for the democratic nomination. I get it.

That said, I still find it interesting from a socially/politically curious standpoint, to pay attention to what the candidates are saying. And what they’re not saying. Follow their campaigns. Call me a political nerd, but seeing how things play out for the Dems fascinates me.

Let me start with some thoughts about  Joe Biden. Now, I think he’d make a fine POTUS. He’s certainly got the experience necessary for the job. The temperament. The skills. But I don’t know that I’m likely to vote for him. I found his YouTube announcement of his candidacy to be earnest, yet lacking. Earnest as he was emphatically and unequivocally stating that he is running to get Trump out of office. Fair enough. I agree with this 100%. But he forgot the part about what he’s aiming to accomplish once he’s (conceivably) the actual Commander-in-Chief.

But as we are all aware, there’s still plenty of time for him to articulate to the American public what he’s going to do for us to improve the state of affairs in this country.  Coming out of the gate identifying himself as the “one” who can defeat Trump in 2020 may have been a genius move on his part. It got everyone talking. It got our attention. Perhaps now that he’s clearly stated that he wants to be the one to evict the Con-Man-in-Chief from the White House, he can move on to substantive issues, such as how he’s going to address the #1 issue (according to me anyway, and for god’s sake hopefully multitudes of other voters), which is climate change. How he’s going to fix our health care system so people are no longer losing their homes and their life savings over medical diagnoses that are out of their control. How he’s going to address immigration, the opiod epidemic, our crumbling infrastructure, our broken educational system, income inequality…I could go on.

Do not take what I have said thus far as an endorsement of Joe Biden. Because there are numerous other viable contenders. Right now, and certainly this is completely subject to change, I’m paying a little extra attention to what Kamala Harris has to say. And Elizabeth Warren. And Jay Inslee. Cory Booker and Mayor Pete of course. There can only be one candidate for the democratic nomination, and by God the Dems better pick a good one. The one who can actually defeat Trump. The one who will move us forward as a nation.

My advice to the Dems is this: work together, people. Be smart. Don’t run each other down. Focus on the issues. Lift each other up when one of you drops out of the race. Communicate to the American public who would be on your cabinet. I think an argument can be made for appointing most of the current democratic contenders a cabinet position, in fact. Examples: Jay Inslee as Secretary of Energy. Cory Booker as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Amy Klobuchar as Attorney General. Joe Biden as Secretary of State. Elizabeth Warren as Secretary of Treasury. Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of the Veterans Affairs.

Bottom line: the Dems need to use the skills, passions, and experience these folks possess and put them in the right positions for this time in our country. No matter who ends up as POTUS.

 

Babblings on Beverages

Kind of like the bag of peppermint tea I sometimes have later in the evenings (to soothe my tummy and chill myself out), an idea has been seeping in my brain about publishing a post about beverages.

Really, ever since I found the groovy blog, Gin & Lemonade…with a twist.  I liked that the first question asked upon joining this delightful blogger’s group on Facebook was “what is your favorite beverage?” My response was “Trader Joe’s mango lemonade with vodka”. Bums me out that this lovely liquid has not been on the shelves at TJ’s the last 4 times I have been there.

So, let’s talk bevvies. Or as my mother in law calls them (the only person I know who uses this word on a regular basis): Beverages.

Here’s a few I would be pleased as punch to serve you if you came over for a visit:

Craft beer. Hey, I live in Colorado, so it’s a given that I’d offer you a beer. There’s so many choices here! If I can assume that you are not a craft-beer aficionado, I’d offer you this one, though it is likely not available at our local liquor store. We’d probably have to get in the car and take a short jaunt to this brewery together, where we could enjoy this fruity, tasty concoction on the lovely deck at Rail’s End.

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Bloody Mary’s. Not the kind with an entire meal perched precariously on top of it. The simple version: tomato juice, vodka, a generous sprinkling of celery salt. Green olives and a celery stick for garnish. It was one of my dad’s favorites.

Colorado Bulldogs. Most people know it as a White Russian.  The only difference really is the splash of coke. It was my parent’s signature cocktail when folks would come to visit them at their cabin. One time, someone’s puppy got into one and got a little squirrely. We all had a good laugh over that.

Chardonnay-ZD. This is a superb wine that Hubs and I discovered during our first UCC Synod (for those not in the know, this is essentially a bi-annual conference for members and delegates of the United Church of Christ, the denomination Hubs and I belong to). No, they weren’t serving it during plenary. Ha! It was at a dockside restaurant in California, where we ate fish and chips with other UCC peeps. We look for it every time we travel somewhere. We found it once and bought it; however it’s got a pretty hefty price tag, so it probably wouldn’t be our go-to wine if it was available here anyway. But of course, I’d find a way to get a bottle or two if you came over!

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Now for the non-alcoholic options: 

Water. I know in some places in this country, heck this world, the tap water isn’t so great. In Two Harbors, Minnesota, however, it comes out of the tap ice cold, clear, and perfect. Here in Colorado, the water is of good quality but it’s not TH water. I don’t understand the people who say they hate the taste of water. It’s like, c’mon, it has no “taste”, no flavor. It’s wet and thirst quenching. And I don’t think I’d get any arguments by saying it goes with everything. Personally, I drink it with most every meal.

Iced tea. Not a beverage I grew up with at all. Hubs did however, so along with those other things one adopts in their married lives, making pitchers of tea with just the right amount of sugar (or in our case, Truvia), is something we do.

Coffee. Hubs and I are both devoted coffee drinkers, like both sets of our parents. We like it dark, roasty, and bold. High-test, if you will. And while I usually keep fresh half and half in my fridge to add to my morning coffee, if you were visiting, I’d spring for a couple of flavored creams so you would have options.

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What’s your favorite beverage choice? Perhaps it depends on your mood, the weather, the time of day. Tell me about it in the comments!

 

Let’s talk characters

When you think about it, all of our lives are filled with characters. Humans with personalities, opinions, and quirks. These characters can energize us, amuse us, and teach us things we otherwise would never have learned. 

To me, the best kind of entertainment, whether it be on the stage, the big screen in a dark movie theater, on the good old boob tube, or within the pages of a novel, incorporates interesting characters. Characters that intrigue us, make us laugh,  and make us wish they were real people in our own very real lives. 

As I ponder publishing the little bit of fiction I began a few months ago, I find it unavoidable to not consider characters I love or have loved, both in real life and in the media.

Those characters that speak to my heart and compel me to write about them. I just can’t imagine coming up with completely original fictional characters without infusing them with at least some pieces of the non-fictional characters I have known.

So let me tell you about a few characters I’ve known. Those who are long gone from this earth who impacted my life in ways they likely never knew.

For instance, the man who taught me how to swim. He was full of life and always had a good joke (some of them quite inappropriate) to tell us. He loved my mom’s cooking and I believe that is one of the main things that endeared him to her. I remember him leading a pack of kids (his grandkids, my nephews) in the “Macarena” dance at my parent’s cabin in the early 90’s. He was a husband, father, teacher, swim coach, and an artist. I have a beautiful piece of his artwork hanging in my guest bedroom in fact. In his spare time, which it doesn’t seem he could possibly had too much of, he did some clowning around with the Shriners. He lived for those times when he could don his wacky rainbow wig and cherry colored nose and delight the children (young and old) in small town parades in the summertime. His funeral was epic, as was the party for his closest family and friends that was held afterwards. He was my godfather.

Then there’s the woman who always had yellow cake, from a box, with chocolate frosting on top sitting in her pantry, waiting for us to devour it when we came to visit. She was terribly hard of hearing and once called Hubs “Cobb” because she thought he was my old boyfriend “Todd”. She loved playing cards and always had the latest National Enquirers and TV guide magazines sitting in racks next to her plastic covered “davenport”. She was a massive fan of wigs, as she found it fun to be able to change her look whenever she damn well pleased. She kept these wigs perched on styrofoam heads on the top shelves of her walk in closet. As a kid, that always scared the shit out of me. She enjoyed herself a cocktail or two and as a result, my cousins christened with the nickname “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl”. She was my grandma.

And finally, there was woman who always had a wonderful rapport with the children she loved, but for reasons only known to her always believed she would not make a good mother, so she remained childless. She had a silly sense of humor as well as a way with the wisecracks. She always said she would have made an excellent boy scout, which everyone who knew her agreed with. She was always prepared, often anticipating the needs of others. She made an awesome Pillsbury dough-boy costume she wore for Halloween. She was a take-charge-but-in-a-kind and loving way sort of person. She paid attention to people and had the very biggest heart. Some of her favorite songs were “Werewolves in London” by Warren Zevon and “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. Every time I hear either of those songs the corners of my mouth do an automatic upturn. She was my (non-biological) sister, my guardian angel, and my best friend.

Tell me, big-hearted readers, who are the characters in your life that have shaped you and informed you as a writer?

 

 

 

Wannabe intern

In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.

This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.

I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.

Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.

And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.

Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?

I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.

Here’s one possibility:

Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.

I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.

I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:

Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:

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For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:

Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.

What do you think-do I have a shot?

More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!

Tell Me Something Good

How is everyone doing? Are there good things happening in your life, or not so much? Me, well…I’m struggling a bit these days. Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that now both of my parents are no longer here. And feeling helpless when it comes to my oldest spawn and some serious issues she is struggling with.

Then there’s the state of the world. Despite all of the deplorable and inexplicable behaviors of the Con-Man-In-Chief and his ilk, karma has yet to make an appearance. People around the world are suffering needlessly due to poverty and the messed up priorities of the governments serving them. Women’s reproductive rights continue to be under attack.

Yes, Karma is taking her own sweet fudging time and she’s starting to piss me off.

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Pick up the pace, Miss Karma!

Let’s just say my faith in humanity is a bit shaky these days.

It would be in my best interest to remember this:

Good things are happening too, though, in my personal life anyway. That I can’t deny. My hours at work are being increased in a few months, so that I can take on more responsibility and expand my skill set to better serve our seniors. It makes me feel good that my efforts are appreciated and my employer believes in my abilities.

Hubs and I have planned a getaway to visit his parents and sister (I am so grateful for these three people in my life) in Wisconsin and then will spend a couple of days with our youngest spawn in their adopted hometown of Indianapolis at the end of May. This is something to look forward to.

But in the meantime…well, I just don’t know. Grief and how people have disappointed me lately in various ways are getting me down. It’s temporary, certainly. The weight of it all, the sense of futility I’m feeling. Well, I think for today anyway I’m just going to feel it. Marinate in it for a bit.

Just not for too long.

I recently watched this clip of Leslie Jones on SNL and it cracked me up. This woman is a force, right? When she mentioned Fantasia kicking her shoes off and belting out tunes at her imaginary funeral, it made me think of this video clip I’m sharing below. I’m certain this is what Leslie was referring to, right?

I invite you to tell me about something good happening in your life right now or in the world at large in the comments. Let’s share that shit around as much as possible. Because you know we all need it.

Word Nerd

A couple of months ago,  I engaged in conversation with a new food bank client. He told me about his life and his education. He shared his love of grammar and communication. He told me that he was so proud of his granddaughter, who at the age of 3, correctly used the word “ubiquitous” in a sentence.

Hard to believe, right? He may have been lying about this. Though who in their right mind would lie about this type of thing?

Either way, it matters not. This conversation, however, did get me thinking, as a former English major, about this basic fact: I love words. Especially unique ones. Ones that are fun to say. Words that have a super special ability to convey precisely the right sentiment at the right moment.

And of course, I was prompted to look up the actual definition of the word “ubiquitous”. You know, just to double check my understanding of it’s meaning. It’s been a few years since I was an English major.

According to good old Merriam-Webster:

Definition of ubiquitous

existing or being everywhere at the same time constantly encountered:
Allow me to use this beautiful word in a sentence:
One could say that the smell of weed on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado was ubiquitous.
Here’s a few more lovely words to nerd out on:

Definition of compunction

1aanxiety arising from awareness of guilt compunctions of conscience
bdistress of mind over an anticipated action or result… showed no compunction in planning devilish engines of … destruction.— Havelock Ellis
2a twinge of misgiving SCRUPLE cheated without compunction… he had no compunction about brushing aside legal technicalities.— Robert Penn Warren
Used in a sentence:
Attorney General William Barr summarized the Mueller report without compunction. 

Definition of kerfuffle

a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict In all the kerfuffle, nobody seemed to have noticed Harry, which suited him perfectly.— J. K. RowlingIt’s not the only school with dress code issues; almost every week there’s a local story about some kerfuffle over what kids wear to school.— Belinda Luscombe
In a sentence: Despite all the kerfuffle made by the Chicago police and the media at large, the case against Jussie Smollett has been thrown out. 

Definition of vociferous

marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry
What a great word, that vociferous.
In sentence form:
I vociferously disagree with climate change deniers. 

Definition of foppish

1obsolete FOOLISHSILLY
2acharacteristic of a fopfoppish dressing gown
bbehaving or dressing in the manner of a fop
A sentence for this word: 

Trump’s cronies are often quite foppish; just look at Roger Stone.

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Definition of milquetoast

a timid, meek, or unassertive person
In the form of a sentence:

Hubs has been telling me for a while now that he believes the democrats are too milquetoast. 

Now I’d like to hear from you, readers who appreciate words like I do: What are some words you enjoy using? 

Tales from an optimist transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

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